Opening remarks of the Commissioner of Infrastructure and Energy

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					AFRICAN UNION                                UNION AFRICAINE

                                             UNIÃO AFRICANA

Address of Dr. Elham M.A. IBRAHIM, African Union Commissioner
for Infrastructure and Energy, at the Opening of the AU Gender Pre-
Summit Meeting, 24 January 2009, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

   Honourable Ministers attending this Meeting;

   Honourable      Ambassadors        and   Members     of    Diplomatic
     Missions in Ethiopia;

   Distinguished Participants;

   Invited Guests;

   Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am indeed glad to have this opportunity to speak to you at the onset of
this meeting on gender issues of our continent. I should make it clear
from the beginning that my presence here today is not just a matter of
solidarity with my gender but as the Commissioner for Infrastructure and
Energy of the African Union, I am with you today also to highlight an
important dimension to the gender equation – that is – the role of
infrastructure in facilitating the contribution of both genders in socio-
economic development.

As you are all aware, infrastructure is an essential element in the
development of peoples and nations as it facilitates socio-economic

activities leading to the achievement of the Millennium Development
Goals whose main orientation is towards poverty eradication. When we
talk of poverty in Africa we are basically referring to women, who
constitute about 80% of all the people living in poverty in the continent.

In our traditional societies, women bear the burden of maintaining
households, bearing and raising children, working in the fields and taking
produce to local markets to earn family income. To do so, they have to
walk long distances to find water and firewood for washing and cooking
as well as to their farms and to the markets to sell their harvests.

Underdeveloped infrastructure in most of our countries is the main cause
of the suffering of women. Poor infrastructure means that women have to
use more effort and spend more time to complete their daily tasks.
Therefore, it is our responsibility to develop transport, energy, water, and
communication infrastructure and services to reduce the burden of
women in Africa.

Ladies and Gentlemen

At the African Union Commission, we are in the process of elaborating a
comprehensive Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa
simply known as PIDA. The programme will include coherent continental
policies, strategies and a long-term development programme for the
telecommunication/ICT, energy, water and transport sectors.

PIDA will incorporate the concerns of all stakeholders including those of
gender in order to ensure that the continent develops infrastructure that
responds well to the needs and expectations of all the people in the

In view of the critical importance of infrastructure in the development of
Africa, our Heads of State and Government decided, in their previous
Ordinary Session of July 2008, to dedicate their forthcoming Session in
February 2009 to the theme of Infrastructure Development in Africa.

This Afternoon, a presentation of the Department of Infrastructure and
Energy briefly outlining the events of the Summit theme, among other
issues, will be presented to you.

Let me end at this point and wish you all the best in your deliberations. I
believe you will finally reach fruitful conclusions which will enable us to
contribute effectively to addressing gender concerns in our respective

                              THANK YOU.


Jun Wang Jun Wang Dr
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